Robshaw out of Six Nations as injury toll mounts for England
Chris Robshaw has been ruled out of the entirety of England's Six Nations defence after undergoing shoulder surgery - becoming the champions' latest forward to fall victim to a mounting injury crisis.
The Harlequins flanker was injured on New Year's Day and is expected to be out for up to 12 weeks.
The news will come as a significant blow to England supremo Eddie Jones after openside James Haskell was knocked unconscious just 35 seconds into his comeback for Wasps following a seven-month absence due to toe surgery.
With Saracens No 8 Billy Vunipola set to miss at least half the championship with a knee injury, Jones will be without his entire first-choice back-row from England's Grand Slam triumph and series win in Australia.
England open their title defence at home to France on February 4, and are already likely to be without lock George Kruis, who is still recovering from a fractured cheek-bone, though it seems that fellow second-row Joe Launchbury will be back from a calf injury in time to play a part in Twickenham.
Prop Mako Vunipola will be out for, at least, the opening two games of the tournament with a knee injury, which has been compounded by loosehead rival Joe Marler's omission from Harlequins' squad with a calf problem at the weekend.
With Dylan Hartley's suspension for a swinging arm on Séan O'Brien during Leinster's win over Northampton not up until the 23rd of this month, and the hooker certain to be lacking match sharpness for the French clash, Jones must delve deep into the resources at his disposal.
Meanwhile, after conducting an investigation of Northampton's handling of the head injury suffered by George North last month, World Rugby decided against sanctioning the club despite stating that they were "disappointed that there was a failure in this case to identify and manage the injury appropriately, in particular considering North's medical history".
It is the second time Northampton have been cleared of any wrong-doing during the incident: a joint RFU and Premiership Rugby investigation also found that North should not have been allowed to return to the game despite passing a head injury assessment but did not feel their actions warranted any sanction.
Saracens have confirmed the signing of Wales back Liam Williams from Scarlets on a three-year deal with the 25-year-old moving to Allianz Park for the start of next season.